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Monday, May 4, 1998 Published at 22:16 GMT 23:16 UK

World: Middle East

Iraq stages mass funeral for children

Demonstrators burned the Israeli flag outside UN offices

The authorities in Iraq have staged another mass funeral of children as a protest against continuing United Nations sanctions.

[ image: Mothers were chief among the mourned]
Mothers were chief among the mourned
The coffins of 45 children were taken through central Baghdad to the offices of the United Nations. There, about 200 mourners burned the Israeli flag and chanted anti-American slogans.

Organisers said the children, some a few days old, had died because of the shortage of medicines in Baghdad's hospitals and clinics caused by the sanctions.

[ image: Some of the dead children had been only a few days old]
Some of the dead children had been only a few days old
At the head of the procession marched political dignitaries from outside Iraq, in Baghdad for a pan-Arab conference, as well as religious figures from a variety of creeds.

Both Sheikh Mohammed Said al-Naimi of the Iraqi Ministry of Awqaf and Pastor Nashwan of the Syrian Evangelical Protestant Church called for an end to sanctions, which they said were claiming innocent lives.

Despite intense lobbying by Iraq, the UN Security Council last week voted to maintain the sanctions imposed after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

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